Cinnamon Buns


Not boredom like I’ve been doing nothing and have nothing to do; what I have to do is so tedious that my mind is wandering onto nearly anything that interrupts the monotony.

My medical finals are in three days. And as I do the 3000th MCQ or past paper question today, I think it’s forgivable that my mind moseys onto other, less important things. In this case, that’s buns.

Cinnamon buns. Have you seen Better Call Saul, yet? The excellent Breaking Bad spin-off makes American chain Cinnabon looks so unbelievably appetising in its opening scene that I sat in the library for a solid week salivating, lamenting the lack of any Scottish branch. Product placement works on me, anyway.

So here’s the recipe I used to make some (superior) substitute cinnamon buns. These are much less sickly than the aforementioned chain’s offerings, the subtle sweetness of the dough balancing well with the cream-cheese icing. The secret to the most amazingly soft buns you’ll ever have is baking them in a pot; the cold, thick walls and steamy, lidded environment prevent any crusts from forming.

TIP: If your tastes lie on the more American spectrum of life and you fancy an oozing sweet centre, up the brown sugar in the filling to a whopping 250g. Mix this with two teaspoons of corn flour so the filling holds its shape after baking. And enjoy your diabetes.

For the dough:

500g plain white flour

8g table salt

One sachet (7g) instant yeast

50g caster sugar

280g milk, warmed until tepid in the microwave

1 medium egg, at room temperature

50g unsalted butter

1 tsp cinnamon

For the filling:

Another 50g butter

Soft brown sugar; a sprinkling (or 250g as above)

2-3 tsp cinnamon

For the topping:

250g icing sugar

150g FULL FAT cream cheese

Makes 6 US-sized buns.

  1. First, make the dough. Weigh your flour, salt, yeast, sugar, tepid milk, egg and cinnamon into a large bowl and mix them together. Yup, just bang em all in. If you’ve got a mixer or you enjoy kneading, give it a slap about for 10 minutes. If not, just leave this covered for 30-40 minutes at room temperature and the yeast will do their thing and you don’t need to knead.

  1. Heat your butter (best use the microwave) until just-melted, then add this to your dough. Mix it in by hand or using a machine until completely combined. Cover your bowl with cling film and leave the dough to rest for 60-90 minutes at room temperature, or until it has swollen to roughly double its original size.

  1. Turn your dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it out into a big, long rectangle. You want the rectangle to be about 20cm by as long as you can make it – mine was nearly a metre without any effort. Melt your other 50g of butter in the microwave and brush this over your rolled out slab. Next, sprinkle on your brown sugar and finally an even coating of cinnamon.


  1. Roll up your dough along its long edge (so it’s still 20cm wide post-rolling, I mean). You’ll essentially have one really tall cinnamon bun. Slice this cinnamony sausage into 6 roughly equal pieces using a knife. Line a large lidded casserole pot with a piece of baking paper (non stick greaseproof) and arrange your buns on their cut end, as shown above.

  1. Place the lid on your pot and leave your buns to rise for another hour at room temperature. Half an hour before you’re going to bake them, preheat your oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas 6.


  1. Your buns should have risen plenty. I sprinkled a little more cinnamon on top at this point, then placed the pot in the oven, lid on. In my oven using a heavy cast iron pot, my buns took 40 minutes lidded then another 10 minutes with the lid off. If your pot is thinner walled, they’ll probably bake quicker – check ‘em after 25 minutes and make sure the sides aren’t crisping


  1. It was late, so I left my baked buns overnight. I awoke to observe their glory. God, they’re awesome. Tear them apart and make the cream cheese icing – use an electric whisk to beat together your cream cheese and icing sugar in a large bowl; no sieving needed. You need to beat for at least 5 minutes, and eventually you’ll have stiffish peaks. Spread this over your buns. Congratulations, you should now be very happy.


My new book, How Baking Works, is available for pre-order. It is out March 12th and it is bloody amazing. Order it here:




  1. These look amazing! I tried cinnamon buns when I was in Canada and was disappointed as they smelled divine when being baked but were hard and dry when I ate one. Looking forward to baking my own with this recipe. Thank you James.

  2. Just wanted to mention to those outside the US that your book can be ordered from Book Depository for about US$25, including cost of shipping, which is likely cheaper than Amazon UK or other British bookshops.

  3. Made these as a share bread! Was a labour of love timewise but worth it! Can’t find a way to share the PIC though

  4. Hi James. Loving Brilliant Bread, and now I can get back into my house post flood I’m looking forward to some home baking. A question for you – when you prove in the fridge overnight do you bake in the morning directly from the fridge? Or do you have to let the bread get to room temp? Thank you!

  5. Tried this recipe and it’s absolutely brilliant! Easy instructions and not much place left to make a mistake. Thank you, James!

  6. Ah, baking is such a welcome moment of calm and creativity, I hear you! It’s inspiring to see that you keep pursuing it despite being a full doc and it motivates me to do it more often. These are going to be great to sprinkle in some inspiration between consults. might venture into a soupçon of kardamom in the filling if the tempting procrastination monster takes full hold of me.

  7. Hiya James, maybe a tad weird question (and late, given that this was published in 2015), but still: what size iz your Le Creuset? Thanks! 🙂 P.S. Love your books!

  8. […] My buns sure aren’t dainty looking like Donal Skehan’s lovely  Swedish ones, as  I cut them into “James Morton” sized buns. There was just something very homely looking about his giant US sized buns smothered in cream cheese frosting.   If you want to make Jame’s cinnamon buns, here is the link to his old blog post. […]

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